Friday, 27 March 2015

Oklahoma tornadoes kill one, injure dozens.

One man has died and at least 24 other have been injured following an outbreak of tornadoes across Oklahoma and parts of Arkansas on Thursday 26 March 2015. The dead man is reported to have died while trying to aid his injured father at the River Oaks Mobile Home Park in Tulsa, where most of the homes were destroyed. Storm damage has been reported across much of Tulsa, and a state of emergency declared in 25 of the 77 counties of Oklahoma.

Rescue workers at a trailer park in Sand Springs, Tulsa, on Thursday 26 March 2015. Matt Barnard/Tulsa World/AP.

Tornadoes are formed by winds within large thunder storms called super cells. Supercells are large masses of warm water-laden air formed by hot weather over the sea, when they encounter winds at high altitudes the air within them begins to rotate. The air pressure will drop within these zones of rotation, causing the air within them so rise, sucking the air beneath them up into the storm, this creates a zone of rotating rising air that appears to extend downwards as it grows; when it hits the ground it is called a tornado. 

Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the world, but are most common, and most severe, in the area of the American mid-west known as 'Tornado Ally', running from Texas to Minnisota, which is fueled by moist air currents from over the warm enclosed waters of the Gulf of Mexico interacting with cool fast moving jet stream winds from the Rocky Mountains. Many climatologists are concerned that rising temperatures over the Gulf of Mexico will lead to more frequent and more severe tornado events.

Simplified diagram of the air currents that contribute to tornado formation in Tornado Alley. Dan Craggs/Wikimedia Commons/NOAA.

See also...

A house in Burnet County, Texas, has been lifted off its foundations by a tornado, then deposited 100 m away in a field with its occupants unharmed. The incident happened on the evening of Thursday 12 June 2014, when a tornado touched down close to the house... 

Six people have been injured, one critically, after a tornado hit a campsite used by oil workers and their families near Watford City in McKenzie County...

Residents of the town of Orrick in Ray County, Missouri, are cleaning up after a tornado hit at about 5.30 pm on Saturday 10 May 2014. The town received about 15 minutes warning of the event...

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